Flags at Buckingham Palace
Flags at Buckingham Palace vary according to the movements of court and tradition. The Queen's Flag Sergeant
Queen's Flag Sergeant
The King/Queen's Flag Sergeant is a member of the Master of the Household's Department in the British Royal Household.The post is filled by a serving non-commissioned officer from the Household Cavalry for a period of two years....

 is responsible for all flags flown from the palace.


Until 1997 the only flag
A flag is a piece of fabric with a distinctive design that is usually rectangular and used as a symbol, as a signaling device, or decoration. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed by a flag, or to its depiction in another medium.The first flags were used to assist...

 to fly from Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

 was the Royal Standard, the official flag of the reigning British sovereign, and only when the sovereign was in residence at the palace. Even in times of mourning
Mourning is, in the simplest sense, synonymous with grief over the death of someone. The word is also used to describe a cultural complex of behaviours in which the bereaved participate or are expected to participate...

, the Royal Standard would not fly at half mast. The only time this flag would not fly from the Palace would be upon the death of the sovereign, when the flag of the next most senior member of the Royal Family present at the palace would be raised. In 1952, the Standard of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was raised upon the death of George VI
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

 because the new sovereign, Elizabeth II, was still in residence at Clarence House
Clarence House
Clarence House is a royal home in London, situated on The Mall, in the City of Westminster. It is attached to St. James's Palace and shares the palace's garden. For nearly 50 years, from 1953 to 2002, it was home to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, but is since then the official residence of The...


The size of the flag is varied according to the importance of the event, with a normal-sized flag being used most of the time. On state or ceremonial occasions, such as the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton
Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton
The wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton took place on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey in London. Prince William, the eldest son of Charles, Prince of Wales, first met Catherine Middleton in 2001, when both were studying at the University of St Andrews. Their...

, a much larger flag is flown.

Change of Protocol

This tradition changed in 1997, following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales
Death of Diana, Princess of Wales
On 31 August 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, died as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris, France. Her companion, Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the Mercedes-Benz W140, Henri Paul, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Fayed's...

, the tabloid press reported alleged public outrage because the palace did not fly a flag at half mast. The Queen was at Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle is a large estate house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is located near the village of Crathie, west of Ballater and east of Braemar. Balmoral has been one of the residences of the British Royal Family since 1852, when it was purchased by Queen Victoria and her...

 at the time, so there was no flag flying. In response to this display of public opinion, the Queen ordered a break with protocol and the Union Flag
Union Flag
The Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, is the flag of the United Kingdom. It retains an official or semi-official status in some Commonwealth Realms; for example, it is known as the Royal Union Flag in Canada. It is also used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas...

 was flown at half mast over the Palace on the day of Diana's funeral. Since then, the Union Flag flies from the Palace when the Queen is not in residence, and has flown at half mast upon the deaths of members of the Royal Family, and other times of national mourning such as following the terrorist bombings in London on 7 July 2005
7 July 2005 London bombings
The 7 July 2005 London bombings were a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks in the United Kingdom, targeting civilians using London's public transport system during the morning rush hour....

 and the death of former U.S. president Gerald Ford
Death and state funeral of Gerald Ford
On December 26, 2006, Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States, died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, at 6:45 p.m. local time . At 8:49 p.m...

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